Hocus Pocus 2 released on Disney+ this weekend, and fans have been eagerly awaiting (for almost 30 years) a follow-up to the beloved original.
The film sees the return of the Sanderson Sisters, with actors Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy all returning to their iconic roles. The film welcomes Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham, Sam Richardson, Froy Gutierrez, Tony Hale, and Hannah Waddingham to the cast. Doug Jones also returns.
The story revolves around three girls, Becca, Izzy, and Cassie, who are high school students in Salem. Becca and Izzy have had a falling out with Cassie, who is throwing a party on the night of Halloween, which is also Becca’s birthday. Becca and Izzy accidentally light the black candle and unknowingly bring back the Sanderson Sisters, which causes chaos for all of Salem.
Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, and Lilia Buckingham effortlessly portray their roles as Becca, Izzy, and Cassie, respectively, and they’re so much fun to watch on screen. Sam Richardson, who plays Gilbert, has such a fun aura about him and has a really interesting character arc. Tony Hale is so loveable as the mayor, and you can’t help but feel bad for him throughout the movie.
Doug Jones returns as Billy Butcherson, and the kick of nostalgia sets in when you see Billy. Jones excels on all levels and delivers a wonderful closing story to Butcherson. Midler, Parker, and Najimy step back into their roles with ease. There’s almost a point where you wonder if 29 years have even passed because they’re so flawless. Their quick wit, humor, and mannerisms bring you right back to the original.
During the opening sequence, there’s a flashback to when the Sanderson Sisters were young – and those three actresses, Taylor Henderson, Nina Kitchen, and Juju Journey Brener – were so well cast and nailed all of the sisters’ mannerisms to perfection.
While the acting was really spot on, personally, I found a few issues with the story. It’s hard not to compare it to the original, which is such a beloved movie and tradition for so many. The movie was in fact fun and had a good storyline, but there was just so much left to be desired, especially after so many years.
It was really interesting to see the backstory of the Sanderson Sisters and Billy Butcherson. Seeing their origin was great, as well as how they became witches with the help of Hannah Waddingham’s character. However, with her introduction, you were left waiting for a moment for her to reappear that never came, leaving you wondering what was really the purpose of her introduction (although, there is a tease of her at the very end – is this going to spawn another film with her, and this was the setup?). With the mayor being so heavily focused on as the descendant of the Reverand, I also thought maybe more was going to be made about his character, but in the end, he ended up just someone who chased after a candy apple all night. The entrance of the sisters was epic… until they break out into song in the middle of the forest. I think without the musical number, it had such a promise to be an iconic entrance. It just felt so forced and out of place. Later in the town scene, they also perform, which would have been a perfect place to call back to the original with “I Put A Spell on You,” but alas, they go in another direction. The bully of the film (if you can call him that), Mike, left much to be desired compared to Jay and Ice.
In the original, I really loved the exploration of the relationships between Max, Dani, and Allison, and felt like you saw much more of their building to the story. The pacing and flow seemed off for the sequel, and almost felt rushed. I also was left wishing some of the original kids would have made an appearance. There were still quite a few easter eggs in the film, though, that made it fun to spot.
Overall, the cast was excellent, and it’s a fun movie that will make you laugh, it just leaves a lot to be desired.
Hocus Pocus 2 is now available to stream on Disney+.